…… rather a prayer space, they say. Why? According to the leaders of the ” Park 51″ project, changed from an original name of ” Cordoba House,” it cannot be a mosque because it space for musical performances and a restaurant. But an AP article datelined Albany and written by Michael Gormley said that the center will contain a mosque. Confusion runneth rampant it seems. Glad we got that cleared up. But, call me a skeptic if you will, but at this stage of the project one can say there is space for any number of things that may or may not come to fruition.
Doubtful that anyone opposed or in favor the 13 story facility will change their opinion based on that information. So what are some of the things being said about the facility scheduled to be built at 45 Park Place. Some say that it shows great tolerance, some bring up our constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion ( insert the name of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg here) some say that a Muslim facility should not so near to the site of the former World Trade Centers.
So , on a site fist occupied in 1858 by a structure built for a New York shipping tycoon, at its last fateful incarnation it was occupied by a simple Burlington Coat Factory store. The site was purchased for $4.5 million in cash just over a year ago, at which time the current process began. Certainly what is now being proposed was planned long before that date.
No doubt there are very well-intentioned people on both sides of this issue. Personally, I would prefer that the Muslim group that says it wants to rebuild the community would begin that process somewhere a bit distant. Governor David Paterson tried that approach and was unsuccessful. Of course, there is no way that one can have the feelings that many New Yorkers have about the structure because we have not experienced what they have. But, having said that, I wonder if all of those affected by 9/11 are opposed. I would guess that they are not . So, once again we have quite a convoluted situation.
Two final observations. Newt Gingrich has been quoted as saying that ” there should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York as long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.” That certainly appeals to many although I really don’t see its relevance. One thing with which I do agree is that freedom of religion is not the issue. Another quote, this from Mayor Bloomberg. ” I always believed that government should not be involved in deciding who you pray to, what you say or where you say it.” But Mr Mayor, government is already quite involved in one of those areas, the where. ASk the religious groups who have trouble getting permission to build in certain locales due to zoning laws, etc. Conclusion, freedom of religion provides no guarantee of being able to build a house of worship anywhere one chooses, Confuses things even more, huh? The discussion about this center will doubtless proceed. A suggestion, follow the money.
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